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Pelicans Offseason Preview: Roster, Contracts and Options

In the third part of the Pelicans Offseason Preview, we look at roster specifics plus my own dream offseason

Will this guy be the savior for the Pelicans??
Will this guy be the savior for the Pelicans??

[The final part of Nico's 3 part summer preview].

How can we improve?

1. Cap Space: the Pelicans only have 5 players under guaranteed contracts:

Name Salary
Eric Gordon 14,283,844
Ryan Anderson 8,308,500
Anthony Davis 5,375,760
Austin Rivers 2,339,040
Greivis Vasquez 2,150,188
Total 32,457,332

Now here is a list of the rest of the Pelicans players with corresponding comments on what is up with their future:

Name Salary Comment
Robin Lopez 5,119,761 $ 500K of this salary is guaranteed (deadline: 7/5/13)
Jason Smith 2,500,000 $ 1M of this salary is guaranteed (deadline:6/30/13)
Lance Thomas 884,293 Fully unguaranteed (No deadline)
Darius Miller 788,872 Fully unguaranteed (Deadline: 7/27/13)
Brian Roberts 788,872 Fully unguaranteed until 7/8/13, 50K guaranteed until 7/20/13
Al Farouq Aminu UFA Cap Hold = 3,749,602 (4th year salary if TO was exercised). 1st year salary of his new contract with Pelicans can't be more than his 4th year salary.
Xavier Henry UFA Cap Hold = 3,201,370(4th year salary if TO was exercised). 1st year salary of his new contract with Pelicans can't be more than his 4th year salary.
Louis Amundson UFA Cap Hold = 884,293
Roger Mason UFA Cap Hold = 884, 293
Total 18,801,356

(Notes: Robin Lopez' 2nd year is tied to his 3rd year salary too. If he's not waived by the deadline, both his 2nd and 3rd year salary becomes guaranteed. Also, Dell Demps is awesome)

Thus the team's total salary commitments can be as low as 32,457,332 + 500K (Robin Lopez guaranteed contract) + 1M (Jason Smith guaranteed contract) +7*491,180 (cap holds for roster spots) = 37,395,592 or it can be as high as 51,256,668 (we exercise everything and retain everybody). This means if we expect the salary cap to be anywhere between 58M ~ 60M, the Pelicans would have as much as anywhere between a maximum of ~21 million or 23 million and a minimum of ~7 million or 9 million, depending on where the cap is.

Most likely scenario? The Pelicans hold on to Aminu's cap hold (and bird rights), exercise Robin Lopez and Jason Smith's contract, renounce every body else's cap hold leaving them with 42,539,993 which is around ~16 M below last year's salary cap. Play with that as you will.

Lastly, here is a short list of all the free agents available in 2013. There might be a couple other players not in there (international players ala Gustavo Ayon and players with unguaranteed or partially unguaranteed contracts). I can't find a comprehensive list for those so you'll have to do that research on your own.

Lastly, there's the draft. I'll have another post about the draft soon but a quick nitty gritty. If you're going to assume something, please refrain from assuming the "if the Pelicans win a Top 3 pick" and focus on the the individual numbers. In our case, it's far more probable that we pick #6 or #5 than any pick in the draft.

#1 #2 #3 #5 #6 #7 #8
Pelicans 8.8% 9.7% 10.7% 26.1% 36% 8.4% 0.4%

Again, play with those as you will. I didn't have the time to do a writeup on "trade" values but I'll just give out my initial grades (F = Negative Asset, D = Fill In/Slightly Negative Asset, C = Average, B = Good, A = Excellent, Untouchable)

Player Grade Comment
Anthony Davis Untouchable Franchise Cornerstone
Ryan Anderson A- Highly Specialized Player, Great Contract, Young Veteran
Eric Gordon C- Rookie Max Contract. Injury Prone Tag. Lowered Performance each season.
Austin Rivers D+ Horrible Rookie Showing. Showed flashes. Still on rookie contract
Greivis Vasquez C+ Good reputation around the league because of MIP showing. Last year of rookie contract affects trade value. 27 y/o by next season
Robin Lopez C+ Solid Contract. Good season. Young Veteran.
Jason Smith C Looks like he's unknown around the league. Good Contract but only one year left (which can be viewed as good or bad). Solid player.
Lance Thomas D Fill-In
Brian Roberts D+ A "slightly" positive Fill-In. Not a deal breaker by any measure.
Darius Miller D+ Fill-In

Lastly, a few dates to remember:

NBA Draft Lottery will be: May 21

NBA Draft will be: June 27

Please discuss in the comments everything related to what you think the Pelicans should do this offseason.

Lastly, I just wanted to add that in the team's conference call they specified 2 things (as it relates to player) that they are looking for: Speed and Veterans. We'll take that into consideration.

My ideal and realistic Pelicans offseason

I'll leave the "CP3 route" for you guys since we'll be competing with the likes of Houston (which can sell him on Harden/Parsons/Asik), Atlanta (which can sell him on a possible Horford/Howard combo with Lou Williams still under contract) and Clippers (lol).

Instead I'll focus on something else -- some other way we can make a sustainable team. What I want is a group of players that are versatile and I want a team that (1) Betters our defense by preventing more attempts at the rim and 3PTs and (2) can somehow maintain our offensive ability.

With all that said, here is my Pels ideal (and hopefully) realistic off season. The Hornets of course, have 10 players retained. Five player with guaranteed contracts (Gordon, Anderson, Davis, Rivers and Vasquez). They also exercise the options on 5 other players (Lopez, Smith, Miller, Roberts and Thomas). That's a total of 43, 521, 490 (including 2 roster cap holds of 491,180). This means Pels lose Aminu's cap hold. ~16 million to work with.

1. Pelicans execute a 3-team trade (borrowed from H247):

NOP trades Gordon for Bledsoe, Caron Butler, 25th pick in the draft

PHX trades Gortat, Dudley for Gordon

LAC trades Butler, Bledsoe + 25th pick for Gortat, Dudley

- most dubious in these trades is the PHX part --- would they still be willing to get Gordon?

I personally feel like Bledsoe has some star potential. Whether it gets realized depends on his ability to keep his shooting form in check and be a better ball handler. FWIW, Bledsoe had 12 starts in 12/13. In those 12 starts, he averaged 14 points (TS% of 48.7%), 4.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.3 blocks and a TOV% of 15.1%.

2. Pelicans draft Victor Oladipo from Indiana with their 5th pick

- I think he's pretty high on Monty/Dell's board. That's just a personal opinion though.

3. Pelicans trade Robin Lopez + 25th pick for Omer Asik (maybe with Vasquez in there)

- Lopez provides just enough cap space for Houston to pursue Howard (their primary target). I'd have to think Morey will do everything in his power to sell Howard playing with Harden/Parsons. This gives him the lee-way of not only getting value for Asik (a similarly skilled big man -- albeit oppositely skilled as their former starting C -- and a pick. I'd even add more value if I had to). Houston might also have an offer from POR (centered around the 12th pick). I'd go so far as to add Vasquez in there, IF I HAD TO. I'd prefer it if Vasquez stayed. I think Lopez, Vasquez and 25th beats out anything POR can offer.

At this point, the Pelicans would have just 44.7 million committed to 10 players. I want more defense with some semblance of offensive ability.

4. Sign Andre Iguodala to a max contract -- around 4 years, 67 million (4th year is a player option)

I think if I understand the CBA right (and Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ), if Iggy decided to opt out, he can have a new contract with a 4.5% raise from his last year. His final year with DEN, he had a contract amounting to 14,968,250 which means he can get as much as 673,571 in raise. So his next contract's first salary can be as high as 15,641,821 with 673,531 annual raises. This amounts to 66,608,712. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

He'll be the perfect swingmen similar to Ariza (who Monty loved to use) but with more offensive ability. At this point, the Pelicans have 1 spots open. They can go with so many options. I don't even really care but a minimum contract for Mason would be fine by me :)

Final Roster (Starting Five + Bench)

Bledsoe | Iggy | Butler | Davis | Asik

Rivers | Mason | Dipo | Anderson | Smith

Roll that lineup out. I love this lineup because it offers so much versatilty with more room to grow. This team is under the luxury tax for the next 3 years and has a lot of financial flexibility moving forward. CLEARLY improved our defense and our ability to defend the 3 (quicker guards) and the paint (quicker guards + Asik). With regards to our offensive efficiency, here's the trade off:

Vasquez, Gordon, Lopez out >> Iggy, Bledsoe, Asik In.

Vasquez, Gordon and Lopez were a net +0.22 on the Hornets offense in 2012/13. Iggy stood at an ORTG of 105, Asik stood at 105 in HOU and Bledsoe was at 102. There's a CLEAR downgrade on offense (especially if you think Gordon can get back to being a net plus on offense with huge usage rates) but it won't be that big, IMO.

Defensive rebounding wise, I think we're marginally better with this lineup. Iggy, Bledsoe and Asik are all good defensive rebounders.

So I was able to do all of the check list I provided here. Your turn. Improving Defense (fewer takes and/or makes from rim, fewer takes and/or makes from 3PTs), Maintaining our rebounding edge and maintaining our offense -- how would you do it?